Fierce Pharma Asia—BMS-Eisai ADC deal; China's generics price cut; AZ-Hutchmed lung cancer nod

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Bristol Myers Squibb, Eisai, China's volume-based procurement, AstraZeneca and Hutchmed made our news this week. (Google)

Bristol Myers Squibb is the latest Big Pharma to make a major investment in antibody-drug conjugates, with a potentially $3.1 billion deal with Eisai. China just pulled off the fifth round of volume-based procurement, targeting off-patent drugs that this time include AstraZeneca’s Pulmicort and Bayer’s Xarelto. Amid a homecoming IPO in Hong Kong, Hutchmed won a Chinese nod for AZ-partnered MET inhibitor Orpathys, or savolitinib. And more.

1. Bristol Myers pays $650M for rights to Eisai's phase 1 ADC

Bristol Myers Squibb is paying $650 million in R&D expenses and upfront payment for Eisai’s folate receptor alpha-targeted antibody-drug conjugate MORAb-202. Up to $2.5 billion worth of milestones are up for grab. The tie-up came after Eisai reported positive data from a Japanese phase 1 trial, while a U.S. phase 1/2 study is underway.  

2. AstraZeneca's Pulmicort, Bayer's Xarelto among big losers in China's largest round of price cuts on generics

China just wrapped up its fifth—and largest—round of volume-based procurement for off-patent drugs. AstraZeneca’s asthma inhaler Pulmicort and Bayer’s blood thinner Xarelto were among foreign-made originators that lost government tenders to cheap generics. All told, drugmakers cut prices by an average 56%—across 61 molecular entities—to get products into the program.

3. AstraZeneca, HutchMed's MET inhibitor Orpathys scores first global nod in China for rare lung cancer

Hutchmed and partner AstraZeneca have won global-first nod in China for Orpathys (savolitinib) for previously treated non-small cell lung cancer that harbors MET exon 14 skipping mutations. The drug is being paired with AZ’s EGFR inhibitor Tagrisso and PD-L1 blocker Imfinzi in global registrational trials. The news came as the Chinese biotech raises HK$4.17 billion ($537 million) in a Hong Kong IPO.

4. Insilico Medicine scores $255M venture round to move AI-designed drugs into human clinical trials

Artificial intelligence drug developer Insilico Medicine has raised $255 million in series C led by Warburg Pincus. The U.S.-Hong Kong company plans to use the money to advance its programs into human clinical trials and to launch new searches for additional drug targets.

5. With a Delaware site code-named 'Project Dragonfly,' WuXi's STA plans to add 1,200 jobs in US expansion: reports

WuXi STA is plotting a 187-acre site in Middletown, Delaware, under the code name “Project Dragonfly,” the Delaware Business Times reported. The facility would be able to house 1,200 employees and becomes the CDMO’s second site in America, alongside one in San Diego. The firm is asking the state for a $19 million grant at an upcoming meeting with the government.

6. AstraZeneca, Novavax partner SK Bioscience eyes $132M vaccine production boost—and looks to add mRNA to the menu

SK Bioscience, on the back of COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing deals with AstraZeneca and Novavax, plans to invest 150 billion won ($132 million) into vaccine production over the next three years, Reuters reported. The South Korean firm has inked a deal with local governments to buy land in the city of Andong, near Seoul, that could see it add 1 million square feet of additional space.

7. J&J cell therapy partner Legend carves out production foothold in Belgium as myeloma drug nears finish line

In anticipation of an FDA nod for CAR-T therapy cilta-cel, Legend Biotech and partner Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen are planning joint investment in a new cell therapy facility in Belgium. Thanks to a priority review tag, cilta-cell will know the FDA’s verdict by Nov. 29. If approved, it would go up against Bristol Myers Squibb and bluebird bio’s Abecma.

8. Allogene, Overland's new China cell therapy JV biotech nabs WuXi unit CSO Yao as new CEO

Allogene Therapeutics set up a joint venture with Overland Pharmaceuticals late last year to work on several Allogene CAR-T therapeutics for China and other Asian markets. Now, the biotech, called Allogene Overland Biopharm, has hired a CEO in Shuyuan Yao, Ph.D., most recently chief scientific officer at WuXi AppTec’s cell and gene therapy-focused WuXi Advanced Therapies.

9. Bristol Myers inks another Revlimid patent settlement—this time with Sun Pharma—as copycats near

Bristol Myers Squibb has inked a patent settlement with Sun Pharma, pushing back the launch of the Indian pharma’s Revlimid generic. Sun can start selling limited quantities of its version after March 2022 and upgrade to a full rollout starting Jan. 31, 2026. BMS’ Celgene has previously penned similar deals with other generic developers.

10. Poxel, Sumitomo Dainippon score Japan nod for novel diabetes drug (release)

Poxel and Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma have won a global-first nod for Twymeeg (imeglimin), a first-in-class Type 2 diabetes med, in Japan. The drug belongs to a new class of tetrahydrotriazine drugs. It is supposed to work on both insulin secretion in the pancreas and mitochondrial function outside the pancreas to improve blood sugar metabolism.